Changes at Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne

Established in 1964, Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) is the largest university in northeast Indiana. As Indiana’s Multisystem Metropolitan University, we are uniquely positioned to serve the region’s higher education needs.  The university is, however, undergoing a profound change and will be known as Purdue University Fort Wayne as of summer 2018. This will be an opportunity for our institution to more specifically deliver on Purdue’s mission and goals in our capacity as a metropolitan university campus.

The BS – Hospitality Management is a Purdue University Program and therefore will remain unaffected by this change. The program’s goals are aligned with Hotel Schools of Distinction mission, which is to closely align our students’ competencies with those needed to be successful in our industry.

Developing Competitive Management Skills

It is with this in mind that the Purdue Hospitality & Tourism Management in Fort Wayne and the Institut du Tourisme et d’Hotellerie du Quebec (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), both member schools of HSD, built a partnership to create a hotel management competition. To achieve this we have been using a computerized simulation since Spring Semester, 2015. This has been a win-win situation that has far exceeded our expectations. More specifically:

  • Both schools have created a hotel management competition in their senior level classes of Strategic Management with a well-established computerized simulation used by both industry and hospitality schools. The benefits of this approach are that students get to integrate all the skills and knowledge and apply real world management skills within a competitive environment. All their data informed decisions get immediate feedback from a dynamic situation.
  • Students compete in 2 week intervals with strategy/decision making in the areas of rooms, yield management, food and beverage, human resources, and housekeeping. The competitiveness of the class emulates real world work scenarios and adds to the realism.
  • Classes video conference with one another throughout the semester to compare objectives, goals, and strategies. This is probably the most important aspect of the course, as the consequences of decisions taken are analyzed encouraging students to develop reflective critical thinking skills.
  • This pilot project has proven the feasibility, advantages and effectiveness of working collaboratively. Several other HSD member schools have expressed interest in joining in.

HSD Student Forum and Young Hotelier Summit participation

We are also pleased to say that two of our students were able to attend the Young Hotelier Summit Conference in Lausanne, Switzerland and the Hotel School of Distinction Conference in Amsterdam. These are unique opportunities offered to HSD schools and their students that literally change our students’ lives by exposing them to a variety of professional and personal experiences abroad.

In their own words, our two participants contributed their feedback below.

“It was a great honor to be chosen from HTM faculty members to attend the Young Hotelier Summit and the Hotel School of Distinction. To be honest, I was a little nervous about this event. Do not get me wrong, I was completely excited about this experience that was about to come, but I did not know what to expect. Talking and getting to know people that I just met is not my strong skill. I am usually the quiet one. This summit got me out of my comfort zone and helped me achieve a stronger communication skill level. Meeting delegates and key note speakers from different countries was really interesting and exciting. Everyone at the summit was welcoming and friendly, but why wouldn’t they be? We all have hospitality in common. 

The Summit consisted of keynote speakers, workshops, discussion panels, and lots of networking. Going to a workshop with Expedia was one of my favorite activities. We got into groups and have to look at data to see where a hotel was going wrong with their numbers. Putting into practice what I have learned in the class room was a great activity!

The YHS challenge was also a way to put my skills I have learned in the past four years into practice. I am amazed to say that my group won the challenge out of the other 11 teams that we competed with. The change this year was about the student hotel and how they can connect the community they are building to further after their stay. My group created an application that was both material and digital. The app had many different features that included a virtual postcard with a personal story, activities that other guests wanted to participate in, and also a location service where a guest can type in any city and see the stories that have already been created by other guests of the student hotel. This application was also exclusive to only guests that have stayed at the student hotel.

Sarah and I both stayed at The Hague for two nights to participate in the annual meeting. The group of students meet separately from the member school’s representatives to discuss how students can be more involved and how to grow the Hotel School of Distinction. The students from the different schools all said that students do not know that their school is part of the Hotel School of Distinction. Sarah came up with a great idea to create an Instagram that would get students involved and to see the global community of which they are a part. We also discussed having a summit that is student run and to rotate it from school to school every year. Since this was a smaller meeting than YHS, it was a great experience to work closely with the other students and to get to know them more personally. I am hoping that I can still be involved with HSD as an alumnus to help grow and create a better HSD.”

Sara Christner (Senior HTM student)

“Getting asked personally to attend and represent our school at a global event was the greatest honor I have ever had.  At first it seemed unbelievable that Sara and I were given this opportunity.  Knowing that financially I couldn’t do it by myself, I knew I would need support.  Finding scholarships and sponsorships was key and what sent us over!  We couldn’t be more grateful. 

The Young Hoteliers Summit consisted of 81 delegates and over 40 different schools and was doubled in size compared to last year.  It was nerve wracking knowing that we were going to be watched and be in a new culture we’ve never been to before.  Being around other delegates and hospitality leaders at first seemed a little intimidating but then getting to talk them, we all had so much in common.  It was easy to talk about our industry but also about our lives within hospitality.  We made friends for a lifetime.  Whether it’s just adding each other on a social network or asking each other for advice, we know we have each other’s support.

When leaving the Young Hotelier Summit, we left with the best memories and experience of our lives.  No nerves any more, just confidence.  I felt like I could take on the world after this trip.  

Attending the Hotel Schools of Distinction Meeting was a first for us.  I knew going in that we were a part of this group but didn’t quite understand what it was all about.  Attending this meeting was an exclusive look into what these fellow schools wanted out of HSD.  We want networking opportunities, we want connections, and most importantly we want this to grow.”

Sarah Tschannen-Bertsch (Senior HTM student)

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HSD member schools